We all know that travelling with kids is not easy (see my previous post on how to stay sane when travelling with kids). But putting all tantrums and sugar induced meltdowns aside, taking your kids on vacation has several benefits for your family.
Exposure to different people, places, cultures
Whether you are travelling internationally or just visiting a different state, travelling will allow your children to see different places, meet different types of people and experience different cultures and customs.
This exposure will allow your kids to become more understanding and tolerant of other people’s differences, especially if their typical interactions at home are with persons who are similar to them. This skill will come in handy as your kids get older and will need to interact with classmates or co-workers from varying backgrounds.
Exposure to different experiences
A variety of experiences will give your children depth of knowledge and will allow them to develop a well-rounded understanding of the world.
Our recent vacation to New York exposed my son to so many amazing experiences that, until then, he had only seen in movies or read in books.
The experience of flying in a plane, staying at a hotel, riding in a train and even seeing the true size of the dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History, allowed some of his dreams to come to life and allowed him to have a clearer understanding and a better perspective of those images that he sees on the screen.
Lessons in humility
If it is one thing that travelling unveils is just how large the world is and just how small our personal bubbles really are.
We all, at one point or another, tend to think that our problems, dreams and aspirations, thoughts and opinions are all that matter and we turn a blind eye to the problems, dreams and aspirations, thoughts and opinions of others.
We forget that each of us is just one dot in a world made of 7.5 billion dots and the importance that we place on our personal situations is, in the grand scheme of things, not so important.
An appreciation for the things you have
Children, and sometimes adults, quite often take for granted all of the comforts, luxuries and civil rights that they get to enjoy on a daily basis.
Travelling to places where these rights and liberties are not a given or where some children barely have food to eat or running water, much less the latest iPad, will make you and your kids remember how fortunate you are and thankful for even the little things.
Detachment from technology and more outdoor time
Speaking of the latest iPad, travelling tends to bring out our outdoorsy sides and allows us to detach from all of our gadgets.
Whereas at home we may find comfort in curling up in bed, watching a movie or reading the latest post from your favourite blogger (ahem), while we are on holiday we get up, go out, walk around and in some cases even become daredevils.
We and our families get more exercise and outdoor time during vacation than we normally would if we were home.
Take my family as an example. During our recent vacation, we walked everywhere that we had to go. It was possible that per day we walked for 3 or 4 hours and my son played in different parks and playgrounds every single day. As a bonus, the only time we checked our phones or went on Facebook was at the very end of the day, to post pictures.
Now that we are back home, the status quo is to get in the car to go everywhere and sit in the office for 8 hours a day. And even though we try to incorporate some outdoor time during weekends, our lifestyle has become more sedentary than those 10 days away.
Family bonding and creating memories
No matter how much your husband irritates you because he never washes his plate, or even if your daughter hates her younger brother and wishes he were never born, travelling together provides an opportunity for your family to bond.
Now I am not saying vacations magically make your kids perfect angels and that they will never fight because we all know better. But being together and sharing these new experiences together creates amazing life-long memories for you and your children.